March 1, 2019 | By Rachel Redhouse | Friends and Family
Sometimes the people we expect to be there for us in our darkest hour are not the ones who show up to support us when we lose a baby. When my husband, John, and I experienced our first loss- a miscarriage at 12 weeks- we were surprised by the show of support by John’s male friends. His best friends were by our side, despite not having children of their own or truly understanding what we were going through. My mother was also there supporting us through everything. We lived two states away, but she was by my side the minute she heard we were losing the baby. That experience was difficult for us, but we truly felt supported by our friends and family. I can’t even explain how they supported us, but just being there was enough.
Two years after our first lost, we were pregnant with what we thought would be our rainbow baby. At our 20-week ultrasound, our son was diagnosed with Posterior Urethral Valves or a blockage in his urethra. After the diagnosis, my mother came to stay with us and supported me through doctor’s appointments, bedrest, hospital stays and more. At around 30 weeks, she left to go on a vacation to Europe that had been planned for a year. At 32 weeks, I gave birth to our son who we call JT. JT was immediately placed on life support in the NICU. I was surprised by the amount of people that came to the hospital to visit him and support us. My brother dropped everything and flew from California to be with us. John’s boss was one of those people who was very involved in his employee’s lives. He visited us in the hospital, sat with us while we cried, tried to make sense of the situation and helped us plan our next steps as we prepared for life with a very ill child. Jonathan Taylor LeRoy Cash Redhouse lived for 3 days and passed away quietly in our arms. Once again, John’s best friends and now their wives and significant others were by our side. One of my best friend’s left California as soon as she found out that JT was not going to survive and joined us in our grief. John’s parents and uncles were by our side, and his disabled great-uncle led our family and friends in prayer as JT took his last breath. My best friend and John’s best friend’s wife stayed with me the night I came home from the hospital. They did the simplest things like help me bathe and massage my feet. They talked to me about whatever was on my mind. My brother and John’s best friends took John out to get my medication and sat him down to talk about what he needed. Looking back, it was more than we could have ever asked for to get us through those first few days.
I have spent 9 years listening to others talk about their loss experiences, and I know that the support we received during that time was very special. Now, 15 years after the loss of JT, we still get calls from our friends on JT’s birthday, and so many friends and family join us for walks and events to remember JT.
While our immediate experience was pretty amazing, we still got those “well-intentioned” friends and relatives who did not have the best things to say to us. I also had a hard time telling my clients at work that our baby had died. I didn’t want to see the blank stares or get the hurtful comments. To this day- despite my active role in the loss community- I do not tell strangers or acquaintances that we lost a baby. I feel like Facebook is my icebreaker to explain my family. They finally get to see pictures of our son and hear us talk about our losses. Many people wonder why I continue to support others after so many years, but we had an experience that many do not have, and I want those families to know that I will be there to support them. Like many people, I do have regrets about certain things: not holding him more and keeping him with us longer, not taking enough pictures, not counting his toes or looking at every inch of his body. But most days I didn’t feel alone in my grief, because we had amazing friends and family that supported us. The support and love that we received helped us heal in a way that would not have otherwise been possible.